A scientist who worked on the Viking mission says
October 15, 2019 1:07 PM   Subscribe

I’m Convinced We Found Evidence of Life on Mars in the 1970s The Labeled Release experiment on the Viking mission reported positive results, although most have dismissed them as inorganic chemical reactions.
posted by Bee'sWing (13 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Convinced is not the same as convincing...
posted by Fupped Duck at 1:11 PM on October 15, 2019 [5 favorites]

"Terrestrial microorganisms have survived in outer space outside the ISS;
Ejecta containing viable microbes have likely been arriving on Mars from Earth;"

Whoa nelly. You skipped the steps of "Orbited the sun for a couple million years and then lithobraked on Mars from orbital speeds".

I'm personally inclined to think that there's a small biosphere of microbial life on Mars and would not be stunned to find that it's related to ours and so survived those two (or vice versa), but to avoid mentioning them is disingenuous.
posted by Quindar Beep at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

Well, that answers that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:23 PM on October 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

Heh, I've worked a bit on this dude's collection for work.
posted by sperose at 1:37 PM on October 15, 2019

This lost me at the moving ghost lights. Anyway, this seems a plausible explanation of the methane variation: https://earthsky.org/space/new-study-mars-methane-daily-variations
posted by joeyh at 2:47 PM on October 15, 2019

One study does not a result make - I don't think we've repeated the experiment and it's very possible that perchlorate in Martian soil may have contributed to the result. (Sauce: Wikipedia)

I'd love to see this repeated to see if we get similar results or a similar experiment that can isolate away from possible issues with the initial experiment.
posted by caphector at 3:38 PM on October 15, 2019

When I was a high school student, my father let me enroll in an adult-education course at the local university taught by a former NASA scientist who told us about Mars and interpreted each week's news from the Viking Lander. You can imagine how exciting this was, and how great it was of my father to drive me there each week. You can also imagine how exciting it was the week THIS happened! However, this scientist felt we were seeing an obscure oxidation reaction of the soil. I still hope there's life on Mars.
posted by acrasis at 3:42 PM on October 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

How excited would people be if there was bacteria on Mars but it shared an origin with life on Earth? I've generally assumed that, while it would get a lot of press, it's not "alien" life and doesn't represent a second genesis.
posted by mark k at 9:14 PM on October 15, 2019

Around 1990ish he gave a talk at the NYC L5/NSS/SSI/SFS chapter meeting, then went out to dinner with a group of us.
He was VERY careful to NOT say there defiantly was life on Mars, he was advocating for more analysis of the data and further experiments. There was supposed to be a scheduled meeting with all the life science experimenters at the end of Viking, it never happened.
The papers on his website are worth reading. He has been a guest on The Space Show and was the subject of much of Barry DiGregorio's appearance on the show. Worth reading the show summaries.
posted by Sophont at 11:26 PM on October 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

How excited would people be if there was bacteria on Mars but it shared an origin with life on Earth? 

I'd be more excited if it was discovered that life independently evolved on Mars. It would be strong evidence that life is commonplace in the universe.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:15 AM on October 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

It was suppressed on MJ-12 orders, like the 1946 Antarctic mission that found Nazi flying saucer bases and shoggoths.
posted by acb at 1:17 AM on October 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

It seems like a sound enough argument to make the ask sound pretty reasonable, anyhow: “In keeping with well-established scientific protocol, I believe an effort should be made to put life detection experiments on the next Mars mission possible. ”
posted by Gymnopedist at 2:42 AM on October 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I want NASA to find a FOSSIL on Mars.
posted by agregoli at 5:44 AM on October 16, 2019

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